Further Exploration

This section ‘Exploration’ provides a space for writing which I feel needs to be on the site, but which doesn’t seem to fit in the ‘Visions’ sections. Prepare to be surprised, intrigued and challenged…

An index can be found at the bottom of this page - click here to view the index

Posts are sorted in chronological order, with the newest at the top.

Imagining a day in 2062

Posted on June 19th, 2012 by Marion

This, like ‘Exploring the future with scenarios’, describes a proposed activity for ’24 hours of possibilities’, part of the Festival of Transition marking the 2012 UN Rio Summit, but I thought it had much wider applications

This 24 hours is about pushing yourself to imagine life two generations from now. You can do it by yourself or with others. A good way to begin is by going back 50 years. How does life today differ from 1962? What has changed? What has stayed the same? What is better? What is worse? Can you compare 1962 with 1912 and ask the same questions?

When you have looked back enough, look forward. Two hints here.

First, decide if this is going to be what you expect to happen or what you want to happen. If the latter, notice if things you don’t want to happen are intruding, let them go, and replace them with your positive vision. Second, feel free to stay the age you are now!

Pick a recent day and recall what you did. Then walk through that day again in your imagination and see it as if it could be, 50 years from now.

If you are doing this with a group, it may be best if you don’t take part, but instead give the group the questions and suggestions above, pausing after each one to give everyone time to imagine.

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Exploring the Future with Scenarios

Posted on June 19th, 2012 by Marion

This describes a proposed activity for ’24 hours of possibilities’, part of the Festival of Transition marking the 2012 UN Rio Summit, but I thought it had much wider applications.

This 24 hours is about exploring the future with scenarios, which are pictures of possible futures. Rob Hopkins’ ‘The Transition Companion’ summarises a whole lot of them on pages 42 and 43.

But for an in depth exploration of just a few scenarios – four – get hold of David Holmgren’s ‘Future Scenarios’. The four provide a great range: from urban high-rise to rural resettlement; from female-dominated to male-dominated; from super-rationalism to earth spirituality. There’s a good summary on page 89.

Once you have a sense of what the four scenarios are about, you can play with them. You can do this with others by yourself. You can do this by visualising how places you know would change under of the scenarios. Or by imagining how some of our basic activities – feeding ourselves, working, playing – would change under each scenario. Or you could go for a walk and try to work out how the places and activities you see could vary.

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The Transition Movement and Future Visioning

Posted on June 16th, 2012 by Marion

Two essential books on the Transition movement, in my opinion, are as follows:

‘The Transition Companion: making your community more resilient in uncertain times,’ by Rob Hopkins (Transition Books)

‘The Transition Timeline’ by Sean Chamberlin (Green Books)

The concept of visioning appears in both these books. As Rob Hopkins puts it, “Not being able to imagine a lower carbon world is a huge impediment to designing and realising it.” He describes it as a “collective failure of the imagination”.

Rather than campaigning based on grim times ahead, Transition suggests we start by creating a positive vision of the future. People are asked to imagine: if you woke up in say 2030, and the transition had been successfully managed, what would it look, feel, smell and sound like?

Sean Chamberlin quotes from a visualisation delivered by Starhawk:

As you walk along, look around you. Who are you? What are you doing? Look at the shop fronts and the buildings; what has changed? What are the businesses you see? Sniff the air: how does it smell?

What did you have for breakfast? Where do you get your food from? Who else is walking with you? Are there children there? Who cares for them? Who teaches them so they know what they need to know? Are there old people? Who cares for them? How do they share their wisdom? What kind of work are you doing in this future? What are your rituals and celebrations?…

Imagine someone coming towards you, someone from this future time. You sense they have a lot of knowledge, wisdom and memory. What do they look like to you? They have the knowledge and the memory of how this transition came to be. Talk and listen to them. Maybe you have some questions for them; maybe they have some advice for you.

Note that you may not get all the answers this second but you can invite this future to inform your dreams, your choices and allow it to inform your bringing this future into being… Now as you start to leave, you walk back up the high street, and as you walk, notice what you pass… What has changed, and what remains the same? Bring that memory and that vision with you, so that you can help to create the deep knowing that it is possible and that you have an important role to play.

Obviously visioning can be done in many different ways. At a recent meeting in my local area I put on a different coloured jacket and welcomed people to this reunion meeting of the people who had met one evening in 2011 at this very place. Now 20 years later when so much has been achieved they — now local heroes — were invited to look back at the changes. This is a very basic sort of back-casting (P100 in The Transition Timeline). The idea is to start with a vision of how the future could be, and to work backwards, working out what steps would have to be taken in what order. As Sean Chamberlin points out, ‘it is only by back casting one can see the context of a particular activity and the route to ensuring that all the elements that will maximise its chance of success are in place.

Rob Hopkins talks about the importance of storytelling in the broadest sense of the word.
‘The stories the media tell us and that we tell each other about the future are usually not actually very helpful as we move forward, giving as unrealistic expectations and no sense of the challenges and the opportunities ahead.’ (A useful warning to people like me too…)

He says that ‘the dominant cultural stories speak of the ability of technology and human inventiveness to overcome challenge, and of perpetual economic growth, unfettered by living on a finite planet. In these less certain times, we need better and more appropriate stories’.

As Sean Chamberlin points out, ‘transition is a story that presents a collective view of energy descent as an opportunity not a crisis.’

You might find it interesting to compare the above with what Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone have to say about our use of stories in their book Active Hope.

These future activities can also lead to end products which are light-hearted but oddly memorable. I was originally inspired by the news stories from the future in the first Transition Handbook (I don’t know why the image of the Beckhams retiring to a cob house has lodged so powerfully in my imagination…) I believe it’s very important to use lightheartedness; as I put it, ‘finding the fun in fundamental change.’

Marion McCartney

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A Review of ‘Active Hope: How to Face the Mess we’re in Without Going Crazy’ by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone

Posted on June 16th, 2012 by Marion

A Review of ‘Active Hope: How to Face the Mess we’re in Without Going Crazy’ by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone

(New World Library)

I expect we’ve all read reviews which say “This book could change your life.” I’m claiming quite justifiably that this book could, if read and acted upon, change all human life, and therefore because everything is connected, change everything. It’s a bold claim, I know, but the book seems to have arrived at just the right time, at a moment in human history when the choices we make will have a huge impact on the future.

I’ve bought copies for most of my friends, and my own copy is full of post-it bookmarks so that I can quickly find the bits I want to share with people.

Here are some of the sections which I quote most often, and which are most directly relevant to this website’s concerns:

P2-3 What is Active Hope?

P4-5 Three Stories of Our Time

P100-101 The Shambhala Warrior Prophecy

P113-4 Not Needing to Know the Outcome

P121-137 A Richer Experience of Community

P139-160 A Larger View of Time: especially looking at the entire history of Earth as a 24 hour day, and then, having arrived as human beings in the last 5 seconds (!), this time representing all our history as a 24 hour day. Thus we learn that in the last twenty seconds (i.e since 1950), we have used up more resources and fuel than in all human history before this.

P163-184 Catching an Inspiring Vision: especially the design principle “What comes before how”. First identify what you’d like to happen; working out how comes later.

Also, ‘Process Thinking’ P167)

And ‘Imaging the Future we Hope for’ (P169-174)

Not to forget ‘Imaginary Hindsight’ (P171-2)

And a favourite of mine, ‘The Storytellers Convention’ (P173)

P185-200 Daring to Believe it is Possible

Yes, there is good news about frustration and failure! (P189)

The Phenomenon of Discontinuous Change (P189-191) Great name, great concept…

I hope that if you haven’t already bought a copy (from your local bookshop or from www.green-shopping.co.uk ) you get one and send your comments and responses to this site. Marion McCartney

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Emergence Summit: September 2012 – Centre for Alternative Technology

Posted on June 16th, 2012 by Marion

Emergence Summit: September 2012

Centre for Alternative Technology

Here the organisers of the Emergence Summit describe their aims, which coincide closely with the aims of this website. More to follow after the conference…


The purpose of the Summit is to reach across a gulf. Not a gulf between people, or between disciplines, but the much greater gulf between our objective understanding of the scale of the challenge facing humankind, and our ability to imagine a positive, practical future in which we have risen to that challenge and found new ways of living.

We know that this positive future is technically possible. One of the things that CAT brings to the Summit is Zero Carbon Britain – a  body of work and a wealth of resources that describe how we might bring about a zero-carbon future using existing technologies. We have the technologies we need: the main challenges now are much more social and political!

If people are unable to imagine a positive future, they won’t create it.

The role of the Emergence Summit is to create a space where inspiration, optimism and the possibility of change can be nurtured, and practical action planned. Too often contemporary culture paints the future as dark and dystopian – we believe a positive future can be imagined and made real. Can we, as creative thinkers of  all kinds with diverse and complementary skills and insights, help ourselves and others to imagine the world we want and literally bring it into being?

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The Transition Social Reporting Project

Posted on June 16th, 2012 by Marion


“The Social Reporting project began last year with 12 ‘social reporters’ around the United Kingdom, producing one blog post every day on a different topic set each week.

In 2012 we will be continuing our daily posts, exploring and reflecting on all Transition subjects under the sun. Our new-style project sees all the reporters taking turns to lead weeks and you can check out the topics we are currently looking at on this month’s rota.

From Charlotte Du Cann (editor) and all the social reporters.”

Most of the posts are news-based, but there are also equally fascinating exploratory pieces, such as the one which Charlotte Du Cann posted in January 2012 as part of the Looking Forward theme.


Charlotte has kindly given me permission to include this extract from her post, Mapping the Future.

In 2010 a group of Transitioners met in the Norwich Arts Centre and engaged in a day of creative visioning. We were improvising on the theme of Future Beings, preparing for a performance that would happen on Earth Hour outside the Forum on the Spring Equinox. We chose cards that imagined different scenarios and then spoke to each other as if we came from those futures: steady state, techno-fix, paradigm shift, Mad Max . . .  During our performance we would speak with the audience as those future beings and they could ask us questions.

I spoke from an unexpected future. It was marked, like my vision, by its remarkable stillness. One day I said, everyone just stopped what they were doing up to then, and began something completely different. The change was absolute and sudden.

One thing I have learned about creativity in Transition: when you provide the space and the opportunity extraordinary things can emerge from people. Everyone that day was an actor, a performer, a speaker, a creator. When you experience those untapped capacities, you can then seize the day and appear in your true colours. You are in this venture, not on your own. You are acting in an ensemble company, backed by all the ancestors and future beings who are yet to come to this earth. When you step out you realise the audience is with you every step of the way.

What does it mean to be a dreamer? It means you hold within yourself a vision for the whole earth, not just how your community can feed and clothe itself, but how we need to be as a collective, aligned with the living systems. It means seeing in big time, considering all peoples, all creatures, all lands. You don’t do this in linear time, mapping things step by step, but in a present moment in which the past and the future are contained. Where everything that is going down in the room, the neighbourhood, is going down in the world, what some call hologrammic perception.

It means when we meet we are all meeting as a council of all beings deciding on how the future will go. It’s an attitude, a frame that brings depth and integrity and a sense of play into everything we do.

© Charlotte Du Cann

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